Jennifer Tribe

Article Summary:

Is book self-publishing the right choice for you? Here's how to find out.

Understanding Book Self-Publishing: Is it Right For You?

Over the past 10 years or so, self-publishing has become an increasingly viable way to get your book in print. Previously, you had to shop your manuscript around and hope that someone would take an interest. Now, with just a little bit of *money, you can *guarantee yourself a finished book.

Having said that, successful self-publishing is not an easy route. A finished book you can hold in your hand is one thing -- that's actually the simple part. A book that will sell is another thing altogether. It will take real effort, dedication, time and *money to create a marketable product and let the world know about it.

Below are the main points to consider when trying to determine whether self-publishing is right for you.

Financial Investment
Self-publishing a book requires a fairly substantial *cash *investment. Yes, there are creative ways to try to reduce your costs but they do add up. You will be covering the bill for editing, cover design, layout, and printing as well as marketing and administrative costs such as shipping, inventory storage, *legal filings, flyers, press releases and so on. Be realistic about the expense. Do careful research and crunch the numbers before you start.

Financial Payoff
The trade-off for paying for everything yourself is that you also get to keep all the *profit. In this way, self-publishing can pay out much more than the 7 to 10% royalty you would get from a publisher. Remember, however, that 100% of the *profit is not 100% of the retail price. You need to figure out ways to keep your expenses down so that there's a healthy margin left over.

Time to Release
Self-publishing can be a good option for authors with a very timely topic that needs to be released to the market quickly, or for people who are just anxious to see their book in print as soon as possible. The timeline is under your control so if you want to push from idea through to finished book in less than a year, you can.

Project Control
As a self-publisher you get to make all the decisions. You choose your title, your chapter structure, the cover art, the paper stock* and everything else that goes into making your book. With such decision-making power also comes responsibility. If you're going to self-publish, you need to do your homework, familiarize yourself with the industry conventions and know what has a chance of succeeding in the marketplace. Are you ready to do that? If not, your uninformed decisions may do you more harm than good.

The Business Side
With self-publishing, you'll be handling the entire business end of publishing. That translates to a fair amount of work performing such tasks as securing distributors and *sales channels, setting rates and terms, issuing invoices and collecting payments, bookkeeping, and packing and sending shipments. Many authors are good at writing but aren't keen on this side of things. Be realistic about how you feel about these tasks.

Marketing your book will be entirely up to you. Since you likely won't have a million dollar budget, you'll need to get creative. If you really hate selling or promoting yourself, you might think twice about self-publishing a book. (If you sign with a publisher, you'll end up doing a lot of the marketing yourself anyway so no matter what route you go, be prepared to get out there in support of your book.)

As I mentioned in the article on traditional publishing, self-publishing carries something of a stigma with many members of the traditional book trade. You'll have to work twice as hard to prove yourself with reviewers, distributors and booksellers.

In a nutshell, self-publishing is more expensive for you than traditional publishing but has the potential to earn you more as well. You have complete control over the project and can move very quickly if necessary. All of the business, administrative and marketing tasks will fall to you, so you need to consider whether you have the time, *money, skills or desire to handle these aspects of the project. Gaining credibility can be an uphill battle though it's certainly not impossible.

I may sound a little negative about self-publishing when in fact I'm not. It can be a wonderful and liberating option for the right project and the right people. However, I do want to stress that you need to be realistic. Know exactly what you're getting yourself into and weigh the pros and cons carefully before you decide whether self-publishing is right for you.

Jennifer Tribe is the president of Juiced Consulting, a company that helps business owners turn their expertise into money-making information products like books, special reports, teleclasses, and audiotapes and CDs. Jennifer holds a degree in journalism and has worked extensively as a writer and editor. Her articles on information products have been published in Management Magazine, Home Business Magazine, BusinessWoman Canada, and other leading publications. Subscribe to her free e-zine, Infopreneuring Strategies, at www.juiced

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